Thursday, January 7, 2010

Waiting for weather

When baby new year stepped into our lives he decided to bring old man winter with him this year. Wow being here in the Keys I didn’t expect that I would be pulling out the sweats and pants that were put away once we had gotten here. Highs of mid 60’s and lows in the 50’s just isn’t my idea of fun weather. I know at this point and time the rest of the country is wishing they had our temps and I say they can have them if they promise to bring back the normal temps here. So here we sit and wait for some of this Arctic air to pass before we make the trek up to Marathon to sit on a mooring ball and freeze. Here at least we have heat, but without shore power we will flounder in the cold. Guess it will be time to learn to bake bread. I hear that's what a lot of boaters do to keep the cabin warm. Anyone have any good recipes that are fairly easy, please pass them my way.

I trust everyone had as good of a New Years as we did. We decided to rent a room at the Navel Annex about four blocks from Duval Street where all the action was. We had taken our bikes down the day before to my Aunts house and picked them up to ride down and check into our room. We had to check in on one side of town to get our key for the other side as there is no office at the Annex. The computers were down so we would have to kill time before checking in. We then drove downtown to meet up with some friends from the marina at the Green Parrot
and then from there to the Bull & Whistle. We then decided to try checking in again so it was back on the bikes to head back across town where in fact we were able to get our key. Then back to the other side of town to our room where I had the longest hot shower I have had in a very long time. When you live on a boat you take advantage of free flowing hot water whenever you can. We then decided to walk downtown and get something to eat as it was after 3pm and we had not had anything to eat to speak of all day. Dinner, then many laps around Key West looking for friends and then it was off to see which item we would like to see dropped. There was the wench at the Wharf, the conch at Sloppy Joe's Bar, and Sushi dropping down to earth on a giant red stiletto at the 801 Bar further down the street. What to do, what to do.... still walking around a bit more we found ourselves back in front of the Bull & Whistle again where Dirk enjoyed the scenery that was very reminiscent of any part of the street in front of a balcony on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It involves cheap plastic beads, girls with a little too much alcohol in them, and a balcony full of people doing some coaxing. I take it you get the idea. About 11pm we decided that the Conch dropping in front of Sloppy Joe’s Bar was where we were going to be. There wasn’t much of a crowd when we arrived but within about 15 minutes there was no going anywhere as the crowd was getting closer and closer for the midnight countdown. We were tired from the day but the beat of the music & the general vibe of the crowd got us back in the groove and with the conch dropped and the roar of the crowd we welcomed in the New Year. Below is the video I took of midnight....

We finally managed to weave through the crowd and finally came to an opening where we could breath once again. We then decided that at 1am we should be getting back to our room so we took off and walked the few blocks back only to discover that we had lost the only room key we had. It was in the same pocket as the ID's were in but lucky for us they were still there. We checked and rechecked pockets but to no avail, and if you remember me saying at the beginning, we had to check in across town. So the plan was launched, since Dirk is faster then me on the bike and I would only slow him down he would do the deed and bike back over across town for another key while I waited outside the room. At about 2:30 we finally were able to access the room and crawl into bed. Note to time when they ask how many room keys we need, get an extra. All in all it was a great New Years and I'm sure we will be here to do it again one day.

Since then we have been spending our time with some new projects and organization on the boat. Let's see if I can remember everything. We decided to purchase two new propane tanks for the boat. One is connected directly to our rail grill and the other is run to the stove below. We had one 10 lb horizontal aluminium tank in the propane locker, but with the two new ones, we now carry 40 lbs in two 20 lb composite tanks mounted at the back of the cockpit. Now I doubt we will run out of propane for a while and we have the empty locker to fill with other stuffs. Here is a photo of one of the new tanks lashed into place. It will be anchored to the rail much better, but till then this works.

In the last post I had told you about us re insulating the refrigerator and it has worked out well, but we still found the fridge to run a lot more then we would like. Dirk did some research and found a little gizmo from the maker of our fridge that will slow down the compressor speed and thus it does not pull as many amps. It dropped our amp hours from about 5 per hour to less then 2. On top of that it seems the amount of ice that builds up on the cold plate is minimal which will mean less times I must defrost and clean. I'm all about less work.....If you have any questions regarding this please e-mail us and Dirk will be happy to write you about it.

One more goodie ordered for the boat is something I wish we had on the way down here as it would have made life a bit easier for both of us.
Its the Ray Marine Smart Controller that connects into seatalk and allows us to remotely steer the boat. It also is a repeater station for your instruments for say your course, your depth, and your winds. Basically it will allow one or both of us to be on the bow (front) of the boat and steer the boat using the remote. It would have come in very handy when we had so many crab pots to deal with on the way down here and I think it will be nice to have in the Bahamas as we have to keep an eye out for coral heads. Plus just having the ability not to have to sit behind the wheel is nice, we can both sit out in the sun and enjoy life as it rolls by.
With Dirk taking the time for all the maintenance and upgrades I have busied myself with trying to organize and find room to store the provisions we have been acquiring. If you are contemplating a stock to buy I think that the makers of Ziploc bags would be a good one as I can’t count the number I have gone through. For those of you wondering why, basically any food stuffs you buy in cardboard need to come out of the original packaging they were purchased in. A few reasons being that the boxes take up way too much space and they also horde eggs and bugs which you do not want infecting all of your other foods. Another good use is just to keep moisture out, as moisture on the boat gets into and on everything. I pulled some of the floor boards up to see what kind of space I have for storage and found that I could actually fit quite a few can goods and extras of things. So it will be off to the grocery store soon as I would rather fit as much as I can now rather than pay the high Bahamas prices I have heard so much about.This area is at the foot of the companionway where I was able to fit 14 lbs of coffee with room for more plus some extra garbage bags and cleaning supplies. It's amazing how much one can fit into a 40 foot boat when you put your mind to it.
The last thing I will cover with this post is the results of the new solar panels we installed. If you remember we had one, but after we started cruising we realized that we would need more panels unless we wanted to run our engine and generator a couple hours a day to keep up with the demand. We now have three 135 watt panels which produce around 21 amps per hour in full sunlight. Our average is about 5 amps per hour as it use to be 7 plus before the fridge panel was installed. Between the solar panels and the wind generator we are now self sustaining without the use of the engine or generator. Dirk figured it up and the solar panels will pay for themselves in about a half a year as that will be gas and diesel that we aren't using plus maintenance and wear and tear on the engines.
So here we sit waiting for weather. While the rest of the country complains of blanketing snow and freezing temps I complain that it was below 65 and windy. I'm sure the temps in the northern Bahamas is not much different then here so why rush over there to pay a lot of money to sit below trying to keep warm. We do have to be in Marsh Harbor or Treasure Cay by the end of February as Dirk's mom is flying in from Germany for a visit. I will keep you posted and let you all know when we make the jump from here to Marathon. That is of course as soon as Key West lets go of us. I can see why people come here and never leave again. She holds tight....Till then, we wait.

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